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In One Chart: Millions of Americans still aren’t entering the labor market despite record job openings


Job openings are at a record high — but only a small number of people are re-entering the jobs market.

The U.S. has added 850,000 new jobs in June in a good sign of health for a recovery economy. Yet the share of people in the labor force has been stagnant for the past year.

In June, the so-called labor-force participation rate was flat at 61.6% — the same as it was last October. A person is considered part of the labor force if they have a job or are looking for one.

The percentage of Hispanic or Latino people in the labor force was the highest among all groups at 65.5%. Asian-Americans were not far behind at 63.2%.

The number of Blacks entering the labor force rose again in June and surpassed the participation rate of whites for the first time since 1972. Their rate of participation was 61.6% vs. 61.3% for whites.

The size of the labor force shriveled early in the pandemic and has been about 3% below average. At one point, the rate of labor-force participation fell to a 47-year low.

With federal unemployment benefits ending in September and with the reopening of more businesses and schools, some economists expect a larger group of people to return to work within the next few months.

It may take a year or two, though, before the size of the labor force returns to its pre-pandemic peak.

U.S. stock indexes set a round of closing records Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average
the S&P 500 Index

and the Nasdaq Composite Index

all advancing ahead of the long July 4 holiday weekend.

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